Previously one of the last luxury brands holding out against both social media and e-commerce, cult luxury house Celine has seen the light over the past two years with a rush of new platform launches.
This week, the brand launched its first ever Mini Program on China’s top messaging app WeChat, offering informational content, a store locator, and store appointment booking.
This isn’t particularly groundbreaking for a luxury brand these days, considering the fact that Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Luxury China found that 70% of fashion labels have at least one Mini Program. But it’s the latest example of Celine’s dramatic digital transformation, which is a far cry from former creative director Phoebe Philo’s 2013 assertion that “the chicest thing is when you don’t exist on Google.”
The pivot to social and online sales followed the arrival of new leadership at the LVMH-owned brand, namely the 2017 appointment of CEO Séverine Merle and 2018 introduction of creative director Hedi Slimane, which also prompted a rebranding and logo change.
Asia looms large in Celine’s newfound digital strategy. Launched in November 2017, WeChat became the second social platform globally where Celine launched an official account, following Instagram in February of that year. It also now operates on YouTube and Facebook.
The brand also launched e-commerce in December 2017, starting in France and then expanding to Europe and the US in 2018, with Japan planned for 2019. In May of this year, Celine added mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan and Singapore to its list of regions for e-commerce on its site, although online orders are not activated. It features omnichannel options to check store inventory or reserve items, but items on the China site are currently listed as unavailable.
Luxury brands continue to weigh exclusivity against online exposure. Celine, for example, still does not have a Twitter or Weibo account, while Chanel continues to abstain from selling fashion online – although it just launched a beauty shop on Chinese B2C e-tailer Tmall this month. Despite continued digital hesitancy among some of the world’s most exclusive labels, it’s safe to say that the era of the complete digital boycott is dead.